Monday, May 28, 2012

10 tips for ESP teachers

The webinar that I attended today was called 10 Tips for ESP Teachers and it was conducted by Keith Harding.

In many cases we are all worried about teaching Legal English or Medical English thinking that we don't know anything about the subject to teach it. Keith Harding's tips can help us a lot.

Tip 1 - Always find out the learners' needs.
Never assume that you know what your learners need, go through needs analysis every time you have a new student. The student may just say that s/he needs to learn grammar, don't get satisfied with that answer, ask more questions to find out what your learner really needs. S/he might be saying "Grammar" because that's what s/he thinks learning English is all about.

Tip 2 -  Keep needs analysis short and effective.
The best question to ask is "What do you need to do in English in your job?". If you ask this one question, you will be able to understand what you have to teach. You can also ask some other questions to find out what your learners' interests are. Don't forget that your learners are human  beings and you can use the information about their interests to motivate them.

Tip 3 - Think functionally not like a grammar book.
Teach them functional language - something which they can use to function in their jobs. Don't provide them with theoretical knowledge. Grammar is the engine of the car, but what they actually need is to drive that car.

Tip 4 - Remember you are the language expert not the subject expert.
As Jim Scrivener said: "You know about English, they know about the topic. Put the two together, and you have the potential for some exciting lessons". Find out a little about the subject, and then learn from your learners.

Tip 5 - Don't obsess about 'technical jargon'.
Your learners will know those words, they will know what they do. Get your students to explain what the words are (even if you know those words). From what you hear, you will find out what enabling vocabulary they need to learn and teach it. Teacher's Books are also very helpful in finding out a little about the jargon you are going to face in a unit.

Tip 6 - Find out about the specialism.
You don't need to be a professional in the field to teach it. Just read a little about the field your learners are in. They know their job, give them grammar and vocabulary to function in English in their jobs.

Tip 7 - Make materials and methods motivating.
Don't get too serious, use a more entertaining approach to motivate your students. The example given was for teaching cause and effect.
"In one year in the UK 10, 733 people were admitted to hospital because of accidents with socks and tights.

Tip 8 - Exploit authentic materials to the max.
The Internet is full of materials to use in the classroom which will make the lessons more interesting to your learners.

Tip 9 - Integrate skills.
In ESP you can integrate reading, speaking, writing and listening in one task.

Tip 10 - Big yourself up (be proud of yourself) - ESP is the future.
English is the language of international business communication and it needs to be taught. The demand for ESP classes is going to increase year by year.

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